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Top South Kesteven councillor says SKDC will "go after rogue landlords."

A top South Kesteven district councillor says the district council is “willing to go after rogue landlords” and impose civil penalties on them of up to £30,000.

The worst offenders would also be banned from renting properties and SKDC hopes such a punishment would encourage tenants to give the council “the intelligence we need” to investigate.

Cabinet member for housing Nick Neilson made the pledge as members of communities and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee recommended a draft private sector housing enforcement policy be approved by cabinet next month.

The draft followed consultation with landlords and was particularly aimed at ‘irresponsible’ landlords, giving guidance for landlords on “how to behave.”

Coun Neilson praised the speed with which officers had devised the policy and undertook the consultation.

Some 24 landlords or letting agents responded to the survey, with a similar number of responses from other ‘stakeholders’, including tenants and home owners.

SKDC found total support for its plans to recover the cost of any legal action against landlords and for a range of penalties, including civil penalties of up to £30,000.

However, letting agencies and landlords were less supportive.

Coun Neilson told the meeting: “The good landlords have nothing to fear. It’s not our job to go out and hunt these landlords down. Some will make mistakes and errors. We will assist them.”

The Deepings Conservative said the council was making changes to the disabled facilities grant so private landlords can install things like chairlifts, so that a disabled tenant does not have to leave their home.

Labour group leader Phil Dilks welcomed the protection the council was seeking to give tenants from rogue landlords and he sought an annual review.

However, he noted GDPR data regulations meant the council could only ask landlords and others who gave consent to feature in its consultation.

The Deepings councillor added: “It’s just bizarre. It sounds bonkers to me.”

Loveden Heath Independent Bob Sampson agreed, saying it meant the report “came from the responsible side of the industry.”

Bourne West Independent Helen Powell suggested a register be kept of all landlords, as what happens in Nottingham. Coun Neilson said he would support her view that the Local Government Association consider the idea.

However, any future registration charge for landlords would almost certainly face opposition, with one landlord saying the £800 registration charge in Nottingham is leading many landlords to sell up”as it’s a cost too far.”

Another landlord noted some problems like mildew and mould are caused by tenants failing to heat and ventilate properties correctly.

Another said his properties were better kept than the council’s and charging for housing checks would make him think about selling his four houses, making four families homeless.

“I am not the only landlord thinking this, good look with your housing shortage.”

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